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Osho on How to Quit Smoking

Question: Beloved Master, I want to give up smoking. What do you say about it?
: Mahendra, why? Why in the first place do you want to give up smoking? What is wrong in smoking? Yes, it is a little stupid, silly -- just poisoning your breath, taking smoke in and out, wasting money, life. But it is not a sin, it is not a crime either. You should not feel guilty about it. Maybe you will live a little less, two or three years less than you would have lived. But what is the point of living three years more? What will you do by living three years more? You will create a little more trouble in the world -- so better you go a little earlier. And the world is too much populated.

Nobody had thought about birth control before. Now we are thinking constantly everywhere how to reduce the population, how to prevent new children from being born. Sooner or later we will have to think about the other end: how to help the old people to go faster, because that is absolutely logical, part of it. If we prevent children from coming in just to keep the world a little less populated -- it is already too much populated -- sooner or later we have to think about ways and means how to help old people to go quicker, faster. We will have to make it a birthright.

If somebody decides to die, it should not be a crime. In fact, he should be supported, respected, because he is creating space for new people to come. He is helping the world -- he is a great servant of humanity.

You say, Mahendra, "I want to give up smoking."
Why in the first place? -- because you have been reading that it is bad for your health? But what will you DO with your health? 

There is a beautiful story about Jesus, not related in the Christian gospels. My feeling has always been that it has been deleted somewhere down the centuries because it is a dangerous story. But Sufis have kept it intact, recorded. There are a few Jesus stories which Sufis have guarded, and they should be thanked for it because they are the most beautiful stories out of all the stories that the gospels contain. This one is a beauty.

Jesus came to a village. He saw a man lying in the gutter, shouting, talking incoherently, making noise. It was difficult to understand what he wanted to say; he was completely drunk. Jesus came close just to understand what he wanted to say -- maybe he needed some help. When he came close he recognized the face. He shook the man. The man opened his eyes, and Jesus said, "Don't you recognize me? I recognize you."

The man said, "I also recognize you, but please leave me alone."
Jesus said, "As far as I remember you were ill, very ill, almost on the verge of death, and I cured you. I have done a miracle -- and I don't see any gratitude in your eyes."

The man said, "Gratitude? I was going to die and that would have been a rest from this ugly life. You made me healthy again and now I am suffering again. Who is responsible? Why did you make me healthy again? Who gave you the right?"

Jesus was shocked -- he had never thought about it. Jesus said, "But you are healthy -- you can USE your health." And the man said, "That's what I am doing. When one is healthy one drinks, eats, enjoys the things of life. What else can I do with my health?"

It is really a very pertinent question: What will you do with your health? Eat, drink, be merry! And the man seems to be almost angry at Jesus. Jesus walked away very puzzled, and he saw another man who was running after a prostitute. He stopped the man and said, "Young man, I know you perfectly well. You were blind and I gave you eyes."

And the man said, "What else should I do with the eyes? The eyes are meant to look and search for beauty. And that woman -- have you not seen how beautiful she is? Leave me alone! I have no more time for you."

Jesus was very sad because he was thinking he had helped these people. He came out of the village and a man was preparing to kill himself. He asked the man, "Life is so valuable! Why are you killing yourself?" 

The man looked at Jesus and he said, "Don't you recognize me? I had died and you are the man who disturbed my death and you brought me back from my death. It is too much! I cannot bear this life any longer. Enough is enough! And please, you have come again... and I have made every preparation to kill myself. Don't do your miracle again -- I don't want any of your miracles!" 

This is a strange story, but of great significance. Man is such, so blind, that he will do something wrong if he is healthy, he will do something wrong if he is alive, he will do something wrong if he has eyes -- he will see something wrong. Unless you are conscious you are going to do wrong.

That's why in the East, Buddha, Mahavira, Lao Tzu and people like them have never done any miracles -- or they have done only one miracle, and that miracle is the transformation of unconsciousness into consciousness -- because unless that happens everything is going to be wrong. It is giving a sword into a child's hand: either he will cut himself or somebody else. You don't give poison to a child to play with; it is dangerous. Man is unconscious, almost in a state of drunkenness.

So what will you gain out of it if you stop smoking? 

O'Leary walked into a bar and ordered a beer and a whisky. He drank the beer and poured the whisky into his vest pocket. O'Leary repeated this routine several times, and finally the puzzled bartender asked, "What is the idea?"

"None of your business!" said the Irishman. "And what is more, you are so nosy I have a good mind to punch you in the eye!"

Just then a mouse stuck his head out of O'Leary's vest pocket and said, "And that goes for your damned cat too!" 

Man is unconscious. He only APPEARS conscious, he is not conscious at all. So rather than asking me what I have to say about it, you should watch. The most important thing is not stopping smoking; the most important thing is to watch why you smoke in the first place. If you don't understand the cause of it and if the cause is not removed, you can stop smoking -- then you will start chewing gum, because the basic cause is there and you will have to do something. If you don't start chewing gum, then you may start talking too much. I don't smoke. If any day I have to stop talking I may have to start smoking! You will do something.... 

This amorous playboy cornered the girl in the back seat of his sedan and was eagerly trying his hand at her. She kept resisting and pushing him away, but he kept coming with more hands than an octopus. She finally slapped him away and hollered, "I don't know what has come over you. You have always been so restrained and gentlemanly."
He said, "Yes, I know, but I just can't help it. I am trying to give up smoking." 

Smoking is keeping many people from many things which will be far more dangerous. Your hand is engaged, your mouth is engaged, your mind is engaged. And you are not harming anybody in particular, only harming yourself. That is your birthright, that is your freedom. Otherwise you will do something else.

Have you watched? Whenever you feel nervous, tense, you start smoking. It helps you to cool down, to relax a little bit; otherwise life will become too much. When you are not feeling nervous, when you are enjoying, when you are relaxed, you don't remember smoking. Hours may pass and you may not smoke for the simple reason that there is no cause. Otherwise you become afraid you may do something wrong. Better to keep yourself engaged.

Mahendra, my suggestion is: first go deep down into your smoking habit. Meditate over it, why in the first place you smoke. It may take a few months for you to go into it, and the deeper you go the more you will be freed of it. Don't stop smoking. If it disappears on your understanding, through your understanding, that is totally a different matter. If it disappears because you went to the root cause of it and you saw the point....

For example, it may be that your mother's breast was taken away from you earlier than you wanted and it is just a substitute.

To many people I have suggested -- and it has been of help to smokers -- I say, "If you really want to stop smoking, then start sucking your thumb." They say, "But that will look very stupid!" That is true... smoking looks as if you are doing something great! You are doing the same thing, in fact a little more harmful. Just sucking on your thumb is not harmful at all, but smoking IS harmful. But because everybody is smoking and it is an accepted thing and it seems to be a very grown-up thing....

Small children want to grow up, if not for anything else than just for being allowed to smoke. Seeing grown-up people smoking they feel very inferior -- they are not allowed. They are told, "You are too small -- wait a little. This is something which only grown-up people can do." It symbolizes a grown-up person. And if you are really smoking costly cigarettes, costly cigars, rare, exotic, then it shows your success, it shows that you have arrived. It gives you dignity.

Go deep into it. It may be that your mother's breast was taken away too early. Then my suggestion is: in the night before you go to bed, Mahendra, have a bottle with a rubber nipple fixed to it and suck it. Every night before you go to sleep become a child again. Go on sucking on it. Fill the bottle with warm milk. That's what the smoking is doing. The warm smoke going in and out symbolizes the milk of the mother. You will have to go deep into the causes.

One of the great things in life is that if you understand the root cause of something you can overcome it without any trouble, without any willpower. If you use willpower to stop it you will find some substitute -- you will have to find some substitute. Maybe you are not allowed to speak; in the office the boss won't allow you, in the home the wife won't allow you. She goes on talking, she gives you no time to talk.

And you are also afraid if you talk you get into trouble; whatsoever you say is wrong. And the wife jumps upon it, takes the cue from that and starts nagging you. So in the home you have to hide behind a newspaper. Whether you read the newspaper or not is not the point, but you have to hide behind the newspaper. You have to look engaged, occupied, so you need not talk and you need not hear what the wife goes on saying.

Women all over the world, except for a few countries in the West, don't smoke, for the simple reason that they talk too much. Their lips have so much exercise, there is no need! In a few countries in the West they have started smoking and the reason is the Women's Lib movement. They have to compete with men in everything; whether it is sense or nonsense that doesn't matter. I am very much afraid they may start pissing standing any day, because they are equal to men! Howsoever stupid it is, they will do it.

Go into the cause of it, Mahendra, and if you can find the cause it will simply melt away. But don't stop by force -- let it go on its own accord, through watchfulness, through awareness.

So I will not say to stop smoking or stop anything, but I will suggest always: watch, meditate, be aware, go into the roots. This is a fundamental law of life: if you can understand the root of something it disappears, it evaporates. Unless you understand the root it will continue in one form or another. 

Source: from book “The Dhammapada, Volume 9” by Osho

Related Links

  1. Osho on LSD as an help in Meditation
  2. Osho Meditation for Quitting Smoking
  3. Osho on Drug Addiction and the way to Prevent it
  4. Osho - I am addicted to telling lies. Why do I do it?
  5. Osho on Drugs Deaddiction with Meditation and Hypnosis
  6. Osho on How to Deal with Drug Addiction with Meditation
  7. Osho on How to Drop an Obsession with the help of Meditation
  8. J Krishnamurti - Habit of Smoking, drinking is an escape from reality
  9. Jiddu Krishnamurti - What matters is to be totally conscious of habits
  10. Osho on Habit of Chain Smoking and Quit Smoking Dropping Consciously

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